The dating sim Huniepop was released early this year and while being mostly well recieved, was subject to censorship on Steam and was banned outright from being streamed on Twitch. We here at LewdGamer were fortunate enough to get the chance at an interview with the developers of the game to get an insight on their perspective and experience through production and release of the game.
Q: Who came up with the idea? A: Well, the initial motivation to make a dating sim came as a result of the fact that there aren’t really any good western dating sims (when I say dating sims, I don’t mean visual novels). Interestingly though, HuniePop is almost nothing like it’s original vision. Many of the games features and mechanics, including all of the puzzle stuff, arrived halfway through development. It was a very iterative development process. The original vision just wasn’t that fun. So we cut things, added new things and refined the design over time.
Q: How did the team come together? A: I spent a lot of time trying to find the right people for the game. The artists were the hardest to find. I browsed art communities like DeviantArt for days reaching out to talented artists who fell within range of a particular art style. You have to be persistent and you have to send a lot of messages, especially when you have no real reputation. I’m very lucky to have found the artists I did for the game. The voice actresses were a bit easier to find. I posted an open audition on a couple of VA communities after the Kickstarter and got an overwhelming amount of auditions. Of course the easiest positions to fill were Kyu’s voice actress Jack and the game’s composer Jon because they are both good friends of mine.
Q: Have you made any games previous to Huniepop? A: Yeah, mostly flash games. HuniePop is my first “real” indie game. My first game ever was a GameMaker project where I essentially tried to recreate the horse racing minigame from “Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town” using ripped sprites. For context, I used to run a Harvest Moon fan site. The site is actually still being operated funnily enough. Some fans of the site took over and have done more with it than I ever did. I also did a little flash game with my friend called “Stardrops”. You can play that on Kongregate . Most of my real development experience comes from my time working at Insomniac Games where I mostly worked on their lesser known game “Outernauts”.
Q: What software was used to create the game? A: We used Unity3D for the game engine and we are using a Unity extension known as “2D Toolkit” for the core 2D stuff. I began developing HuniePop before native 2D tools were introduced into Unity and I had built so many custom systems for handling sorting and UI components that upgrading the engine would have pretty much broken everything. So, the version of Unity that HuniePop was built with is actually kinda outdated.
Q: Any thoughts of adding characters/game modes for alternative sexualities?A: You mean hunky dude bros? No, unfortunately not for HuniePop. Dudes are great, but they don’t quite inspire me like chicks do.
Q: What made you decide on crowdfunding?A: Initially the budget was just the money I had saved up working at Insomniac. But, games are very expensive to make. Living in California didn’t help either. So, naturally I used up those funds within about 6 months. At that point Kickstarter seemed like the best way to keep the project going. Fortunately we raised so much money that we were actually able to make the game even better than it otherwise would have been had it not been crowdfunded.
Q: How long was the production period?A: The production period for HuniePop was abnormally long, for a dating sim at least. All together I’d say about 18 months. A lot of that time is lost to the iterative development process. I can’t tell you how many features and systems we invested a massive amount of hours into just to later completely scrap. I’ve tossed several week’s worth of dialog right into the garbage and basically started writing from scratch at one point. It’s all worth it in the end though. You end up with a much better game for the effort.
Q: How did you feel about the censorship of Huniepop?A: I’ll do whatever Valve says without complaint. It’s their platform and I believe it a privilege to be on it. But honestly, I think the guys at Valve are extremely open minded about HuniePop and should be commended for it. It’s barely censored and the patch is just a few clicks away. My hope is that HuniePop opens up a door for other developers to continue to push the envelope of sexiness.
Q: What kind of backlash have you experienced?A: Mainly just social justice crybaby bullshit; the people that can’t handle the fact that other people, who aren’t them, get to play a game that they don’t like. But obviously anybody could have seen that coming ten thousand miles away. I remember writing some of the dialog and laughing, thinking “holy shit, they aren’t gonna like this one”.
Q: What is the most common criticism you have received?A: If we’re ignoring the SJW stuff, and we are, then it would be either that people would have liked more story or the fact that there is no in-game exit button. Both fair points.
Q: What projects do you have planned for the future?A: We aren’t sharing any details just yet but we are cooking something up that I am very, very excited about.
We would like to thank the developers for taking the time to answer our questions and we are excited to see what the team may release in the future.
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